Men and Accountability, Part 7

Ok, here’s another thought from this passage of Scripture… from an event in the life of Moses and Joshua dealing with accountability and men. (see also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6).

After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:14)

When the victory is over, many men have the tendency to forget, right? If people want me to do something, I tell them to write it down and give it to me because I am going to forget, count on it. I even ask Kim to send me an e-mail with an important date or event, just so I remember to put it in my Palm Pilot (Yes, I still have such old technology).

God tells Moses exactly what to write: “Write this … as a memorial and recite it.” Where did this shepherd, wanderer and deliverer learn to do all this writing? Moses would have learned writing and record-keeping in Pharaoh’s school of government. Official Hebrew records other than Scripture were also to be kept, and in this case especially for the purpose of remembering the victory of the very first battle in which they fought. God referred to “a book,” so Moses had evidently already begun writing one. This was not, then, the initial entry into what perhaps became known as the “Book of the Wars of the Lord” (Numbers 21:14). Writing it was essential, so the facts could be verified and it did not need to depend upon human memory or just oral tradition.

God also said He was going to blot out the memory of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:14). This is similar to the death sentence (or national extinction) which the Amalekites pronounced on Israel (Psalm 83:4–7). The sentence was partially realized in Saul’s and David’s day (1 Samuel 15:1–9 and 2 Samuel 1:1; 8:11, 12), after which the Amalekites are scarcely mentioned again.

However, due to Saul’s disobedience in sparing Agag, the Amalekite king and some of his people (1 Samuel 15:7, 8, 9), he lost his throne (1 Samuel 15:23). The prophet Samuel killed Agag (1 Samuel 15:33), but some Amalekites remained to return a few years later to raid Israel’s southern territory, even capturing David’s family (1 Samuel 30:1–5). David killed all but 400 (1 Samuel 30:16, 17) who escaped. Fast forward a couple hundred years, and it was a descendant of Agag, the wicked Haman, who tried to exterminate the Jews later in Esther’s day (Esther 3:1, 6).

My point in writing all this? First, write down your victories. In the midst of defeat after defeat in our spiritual lives (or relationships), it is so important to remember the times that God came through and allowed us to experience victory. If we don’t write them down, we are not going to remember them. We can even use these victories to trash-talk the enemy when he’s trying to bring us down.

Next, God tells Moses to “recite” the stories. It is a great thing to brag on God’s provision, protection and promises… just to tell others about His faithfulness. As believers, we have a story to tell of how God brought into our lives a victory over sin and death. The fancy church word is that we have a testimony. Let’s tell of his wonderful deeds, so that the world may know who He is and what He has done (1 John 5:13, 1 Chronicles 16:24, Psalm 96:3, Exodus 10:2, 31:13, Joshua 4:24, 1 Kings 8:60, Isaiah 37:20).

Third, Moses was to recite these stories to Joshua, the next generation. I read that any civilization is only 2.5 generations from extinction if they do not remember the stories of who they are or how they got to where they are. It goes for Christianity, too. Pass on the stories so the next generation will know about our exceptional God.

Fourth, just as Saul did not do as he was told, and spared the life of Agag the Amalekites king (1 Samuel 15:9), don’t ever allow the enemy to have a foothold in some area of your life, only to have that vice come back and attack you at some later point in your life. As Barney Fife used to say, “Nip it. Nip it in the bud. It’s time to do a little bud-nipping.”

Finally, just as the Amalekites were to be blotted out, it did not happen right away. The same familiar enemy will continue to attack you until the time God completes His work in your life. Don’t expect to live a life free of the enemy relentlessly pursuing you. When this enemy gets hold of you, it brings only death and destruction; so be on your guard at all times. He jumps out of nowhere to cause a lot of harm (Numbers 14:45). But there will come a day when the enemy has no power over you in these areas in your life. Remember, there may be only a single family member that makes it through to cause so much grief, as in Esther’s day (Esther 3:1, 6). Be on your guard.

The best part of Men of Steel is that we don’t go through this life alone. There is safety in numbers and wisdom in many counselors (Proverbs 13:10, 15:22). Have a great week.

Men and Accountability, Part 6

Six parts… you thought I was done with this Bible passage, didn’t you? Here’s another thing to glean from this passage of Scripture… from an event in the life of Moses and Joshua dealing with accountability and men. (see also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5)

Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. (Exodus 17:10)

Have you ever thought about what mentoring is all about? It’s basically one person (the mentor) investing his life into another person (the protégé or learner). Some men have a natural drawing to another man, someone whose career, marriage, lifestyle or spiritual connection with God is so impressive or inspiring that other men just like being near them. Perhaps one can learn a few things through close proximity or through books, but this really is about relationships.

Mentoring is seldom a prearranged situation. Sure, you can get into an official program and actually mentor another person, but there is usually a time limitation or the relationship ends at some point. While mentoring is not a permanent relationship, it does continue. The ideal would have the protégé being mentored while he keeps his eyes open to the possibility of mentoring someone else.

“Joshua did as Moses told him” (Exodus 17:10). I sense that Moses and Joshua had such a close relationship that Joshua hungered to sit at Moses’ feet and learn what God wanted him to do. At this stage in their relationship, God spoke to Moses and then Moses would speak to the people. Today, we have direct access to God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. No one gets to the Father except through Christ (John 14:6), but we must also understand that God will often speak through His servants, like a mentor. As a mentor seeks after God, his goal is to pass on what he learns and his experience to the next generation. Joshua was a protégé who knew what needed to be done. He understood the big picture and was obedient, perhaps unto death. There was no guarantee that Joshua would not lose his life during this battle with the Amalekites.

So who is Joshua anyway? His name means, “Yahweh delivered.” Joshua is one of the unsung heroes of the Old Testament. It was he, not Moses, who led the people of Israel into the Promised Land. He was a person of such stature that he could succeed the incomparable Moses and compile a record of notable success (Joshua 24:31). His name in the New Testament is equivalent to Jesus.

Joshua was born in Egypt during the period of slavery. He was a member of Ephraim, the important tribe that later formed the heart of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He first appeared in our current passage, during this battle with the Amalekites. He was Moses’ general, who led the troops in the actual fighting (Exodus 17:10, 14).

Joshua was also Moses’ servant (Exodus 24:13). He was on the mountain when Moses received the Law, or Ten Commandments (Exodus 32:16-17). He was also one of the twelve spies Moses sent to investigate Canaan (Numbers 13:8, 16). He and Caleb returned with a positive, minority report. Of all the adults alive at that time, only the two of them were allowed to live to enter the land of Canaan (Numbers 14:28-30, 38).

The Lord selected Joshua to be Moses’ successor long before Moses’ death (Numbers 27:15-23; Deuteronomy 31:14-15, 23; 34:9). Joshua was a military leader, a political leader, and a spiritual leader. He was quiet and unassuming, but he was not afraid of his responsibilities or the task that lay before him. He was a battlefield genius, particularly in the areas of careful planning, strategy, and execution. He was a capable administrator for the nation, effective in maintaining harmony among people and groups. He was a spokesman to the people for the Lord. Though he did not receive the Law as Moses had, he communicated the Lord’s will and the Lord’s message much like Moses (Joshua 24:2, 14, 15).

Joshua was leading the nation during the conquest and the distribution and settlement of Canaan. He led in the covenant renewal at mount Ebal and Shechem (Joshua 8:30-35; 24:1-28). He was able to challenge his people by both word and example. He set a pattern that is hard to live up to. Moses had guided (or mentored) Joshua to be the effective leader he had become.

The goal of the mentor is for the protégé to become greater than oneself, to pass on knowledge and experience so that one day the protégé will succeed in life. We see this in Joshua because Moses invested himself into Joshua, and God was able to take that and use him for greater glory. Who do you see as a mentor, and when are you going to formally step into that relationship for the greater good of your marriage, family and spiritual life?

Join us this Saturday at 7:30 in the Welcome Center. Then we can go visit a man of steel in Virginia Beach General.

Men and Accountability, Part 5

I thought I was done with this Bible passage, but wait; there are more things to glean from this passage of Scripture… this story in the life of Moses and Joshua offers a lot of information concerning accountability and men. (see also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

“So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other.” (Exodus 17:11-12)

When it comes to life, no one ever said it was going to be easy; even in the Christian life. In our discussion the other Saturday, Derrick brought up the fact that living the life God intends is never easy. I remember telling my son years ago (when accused of not being fair) that life isn’t fair, in fact I would say, “Life is hard, and then you die.” At the risk of sounding cold and unfeeling, you get my point. Those of you who are dads, you understand.

Who ever came to Christ believing that once someone becomes a Christian, problems will cease and blessings will begin to overflow in life? (Perhaps if someone is looking through rose-colored glasses). Take another look at Moses and Joshua in this story. They are free from the slavery in Egypt, expecting to soon be in the Promised Land, but the path will be complicated, long and hard. While on their way through the region, these Amalekites began wreaking havoc on the children of Israel.

There was an assault on the battlefield (Exodus 17:8, 10) and the Amalekites were even using guerilla warfare as God’s people traveled through the area (Deuteronomy 25:18)… definitely not an easy commute to the Promised Land. The battle was fierce, and it did not end quickly. The strategy God used was this mysterious raising of the hands (Exodus 17:11), and Moses became weary and needed to rest. Victory was in jeopardy if he lowered his hands. At this point I must point out that victory never comes easy.

As a man in this culture, you are daily bombarded with so much trash that will bring you down spiritually, relationally, physically and even emotionally. It’s hard living the life that God intends. You read His Word, you know what you are supposed to be doing, but just like the Apostle Paul, you find yourself doing the exact opposite, the very thing you said you would not do (Romans 7:19). The enemy doesn’t want you to be faithful to your wife, or sober, or in church, or growing in godliness. He wants your soul, your heart, your time, your marriage, your kids; basically he wants you to be trapped in (or enslaved to) pornography, alcohol, work, sports, consumerism, foul language, you name it… anything that will keep you from living a victorious and virtuous life.

It comes down to accountability. When Moses was weary and tired, he had Aaron and Hur, two other men who were there to help hold him up. Aaron and Hur did not need to plan an intervention on Moses… notice Moses didn’t call these other men over to help him when he got tired, they were already there (Exodus 17:10). He didn’t even tell them how to help him; they knew exactly what needed to be done in order to help him during this trying time, they took the stone and placed it under him (Exodus 17:12). Men need to allow other men into there lives, and we all need someone like Aaron and Hur to be with us during these rough times. Lets not wait until the times are that tough to develop relationships with other men; at that point it just might be too late.

Men and Accountability, Part 4

Hold on one more time… I have revisited this story in the life of Moses and Joshua a few times but this lesson is key to accountability and men. (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

“Moses, Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill, so it came about when Moses held his hand up that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.” (Exodus 17:10-11).

Men of today are engaged in a battle. Another item related to our Bible story is how Moses and the Israelites were able to win this battle in Exodus 17:12. Get this… if Moses was able to keep his hands up, the Israelites were winning. But, when Moses was tired and lowered his hands, the enemy began to win. So, Moses had two other men with him to help support his hands. When Moses was without strength, there was another man on each side to support him and hold him up. Our common enemy is battling for your soul, family, marriage, your children, your integrity and your reputation, your finances, your health, your thoughts. There is often a temptation to let our hands down because we are just plain tired, but don’t, that is when the enemy begins to prevail.

Solomon wisely wrote that we should not be alone (Ecclesiastes 4:12) and from the beginning God recognized that particular weakness in men (Genesis 2:18). So, where do you stand in regard to accountability with other men? We’re not suggesting that “Big Brother” invade your life, but we are stating the fact that without others to support us, challenge us, correct us, or even get in our face every once in a while when we do stupid things, we will go the way of the stragglers (Deuteronomy 25:18).

The Men of Steel is a gathering of men for Motivation, Encouragement and Instruction; and yes, there is an element of informal accountability. Accountability cannot be forced, manufactured or assigned, but it will be found once you make the commitment to God and a connection to another man (realizing that he’s got your back and you’ve got his). There is strength in numbers. Be aware of your kryptonite, and don’t let it destroy you.

Men and Accountability, Part 3

For the third time I want to revisit the story in the life of Moses and Joshua that encourages accountability between men. (see Part 1 and Part 2)

“And he named the place Massah and Meribah… and Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.” (Exodus 17:7, 8).

Where are they? Rephidim. “So what” you say? I discovered that Rephidim in Hebrew has different meanings. It could mean “supports” which is a convenient definition since it is here that Moses’ hands were supported by Aaron and Hur, which led to the Israelite victory (Exodus 17:11). Another definition I found is “rests” or “stays” or “resting places.” I see how these two definitions might be similar, since “rests” and “supports” appear to be the same idea.

But the idea of “resting places” intrigues me because it is here, at Rephidim, where the people of Israel were doing anything but resting.

First they were fussing about the lack of drinking water. So much were they ticked off at Moses that they intended to stone him and go back to Egypt (Exodus 17:3, 4). Leave it to the people of God to forsake all they know to be true… that God loves them, that Moses was God’s deliverer, that God provided for them… like the Red Sea crossing (Exodus 14:21), quail for dinner (Exodus 16:13), manna for breakfast (Exodus 16:14, 15, 31)… and then complain. Not much has changed in 3500 years. When life gets hard we tend to blame God rather than the enemy. Think about it, how many swear words do you know that include the name of or reference to Satan (the adversary) or Lucifer or the devil?

They were also fighting for their very existence. Rather than a honorable adversary who fought on the battlefield, they had an enemy that attacked the weak and weary (Deuteronomy 25:18). Remember that it was here at Rephidim that the people grumbled about having no water and turned against Moses (Exodus 17:1, 3). After the water came from the rock, perhaps Rephidim could be a “resting place” but they named the place Massah (from the root word “to test”) and Meribah (meaning strife or argument) (see Exodus 17:7).

My point here is that in a location called, “resting places” the enemy came to attack. After they received the refreshing waters from the rock (Exodus 17:6) and a full tummy of manna each morning, there was an enemy ready to fight against them. Our enemy comes to us when we are most comfortable and vulnerable. At times we have a false sense of security, believing that since everything is going our way, we are not in danger. I used to tell my teenagers, if you don’t bump into the devil every once in a while, you might just be travelling in the same direction.

Accountability and men… when you are comfortable, you will often compromise or slide into places that you never thought you’d be. Moses told the people they should not test God (Exodus 17:2, 7), so let us not test him by pushing ourselves up to the line we said we would never cross. In a moment of weakness we can cross that line and have enormous regrets. We are accountable to God, so let’s not fuss and fight with God or His leaders on earth because there is a real enemy out there who seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Come to the place of rest and keep watch. Allow God to bless your life while you offer thanksgiving and obedience to Him each day.